Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017 Heads to the President’s Desk
CARMEL, IN – Late last night, the Senate passed H.R. 2228, the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017, which would help agencies create and improve mental health services for law enforcement officers. The bill was introduced earlier this year in the House of Representatives by Susan Brooks (R-IN), Val Demings (D-FL), Doug Collins (R-GA), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Dave Reichert (R-WA).
“With the passage of the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017 out of the Senate, our nation’s police officers are one step closer to receiving the necessary support and access to mental health services that will help them cope with the trauma they experience daily on the job,” said Brooks, former United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. “I am grateful for the leadership of Indiana Senators Joe Donnelly and Todd Young to get this bill passed out of the Senate and for their continued commitment to supporting the well-being of the Hoosier law enforcement community. I encourage the President to swiftly sign this bipartisan legislation into law because ensuring the safety of our police officers is critically important.”
“It is our job to ensure that every law enforcement officer has the help and resources they need to effectively deal with stress and mental health challenges, so that our officers can continue to keep us all safe,” said Demings, former Police Chief with 27 years of law enforcement experience. “I applaud my colleagues for their work and urge the President to swiftly sign this bill into law.”
"My father was a Georgia State Trooper, and we are both excited to see the Senate pass the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act, championed by my friend Congresswoman Susan Brooks and passed in the House last month,” said Collins. “In this season of reflection, Congress is right to prioritize the unique wellness needs of the law enforcement community, who voluntarily enter dangerous, stressful situations for the sake of their neighbors each day. I look forward to seeing this thoughtful legislation reach the president's desk."
"The brave men and women in law enforcement put themselves in difficult, dangerous, and sometimes life-threatening situations every day,” said Pascrell. “I am pleased that this bill is on its way to becoming law because it will help provide our law enforcement officers with resources they need to effectively do their jobs to keep our communities safe. We must work to decrease the stress on law enforcement officers, which can have a big impact on officers’ physical and mental well-being. This bill is an important step forward in ensuring that officer mental wellness is a priority from the day of hire to the day of retirement.”
“After a 33-year career in law enforcement, I know first-hand the importance of providing critical mental health and wellness services for our first responders,” said Reichert. “Our nation’s law enforcement face significant trauma on a regular basis as they dedicate their lives to keeping our communities safe. We have seen how these services help our military members, and now it is time that we provide the same help for those who serve us here at home. I am pleased to see the Senate pass this essential bipartisan, bicameral legislation to bring much needed health care to those who put their lives on the line each day for our safety.”
The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017 is the companion bill to S.876, bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Todd Young (R-IN).
“We are pleased that our bipartisan legislation to support the mental health and wellness of our law enforcement officers will soon become law,” said Donnelly and Young. “Our law enforcement officers work every day to keep our families and communities safe, and it’s important we ensure they have access to the mental health services they need to remain ready to serve.”
The Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017 would direct the Department of Justice, Department of Defense, and the Department of Veterans Affairs to develop resources to equip local law enforcement agencies to address mental health challenges faced by officers. The bill would also make grants available to initiate peer mentoring pilot programs, develop training for mental health providers specific to law enforcement mental health needs, and support law enforcement officers by studying the effectiveness of crisis hotlines and annual mental health checks.
“Congresswoman Brooks record on her support of the law enforcement community in Indiana is well known,” said William Owensby, President of the Indiana State Fraternal Order of Police. “It became more apparent to the nation as she cosponsored the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act that passed last night. The legislation will enable the nation’s officers to help identify and treat issues that arise from the stresses of protecting the citizens of this great nation. Many thanks to her and to Congresswoman Demings for their support in the House of this important piece of work.”
This legislation is supported by Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the National Association of Police Officers (NAPO), the Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA), the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA), and the Sergeants Benevolent Association.
To learn more about the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017, read Brooks’ op-ed in the Indy Star here.